Friday, September 19, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 7/19/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Majka wins 14th Tour de France stage; Nibali extends overall lead


FISOUL, France — Rafal Majka of Poland won the 14th stage of the Tour de France — a second day of punishing Alpine climbs and over the highest point on the race — as Vincenzo Nibali again extended his overall lead by finishing second on Saturday.

Majka led a breakaway on the final climb in the 110-mile roller-coaster course over two infamous climbs, including the 7,742-foot Izoard pass, and a finish up to Risoul ski station.

The one-two result was the flip of Friday’s entree into the Alps: Nibali won, and Majka was second.

Majka’s victory was the first on this Tour by his Tinkoff-Saxo Bank team, which lost main leader Alberto Contador when he crashed out injured on Stage 10.

“I am really very happy,” Majka, who was sixth in the Giro d’Italia this year, said of his first Tour stage win. “I am a little tired, but ... I had a calm first week to help Alberto. It broke my heart to see him leave.”

Team owner Oleg Tinkov, a Russian businessman, choked up, wiped his nose, and put on sunglasses.

“We lost Alberto, we had to win,” he said through a translator on French TV. “Rafal is a marvelous young rider. We will come back to try to win the Tour one day.”

The stage didn’t shake up the top five standings. Nibali strengthened his hold on the yellow jersey, making the Tour from here to the finish in eight days in Paris looking more and more like a race for podium spots behind him.

Nibali crossed 24 seconds behind Majka, followed by Jean-Christophe Peraud in third, two seconds slower. Two French riders, Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet, conducted a two-man sprint and crossed another 24 seconds back. American Tejay van Garderen was fifth, 54 seconds back of the Polish rider. Alejandro Valverde lost a minute to Nibali.

Overall, the Italian leads second-place Valverde by 4:37, and third-place Bardet by 4:50.

Sunday’s stage offers some relief after the Alps: Stage 15 is a flat 138-mile course from Tallard to Nimes.

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